This past week I broke out and ran the brick. That's right the brick. Better known to rail fans as an E33 Electric Locomotive. But the NYCTL does haven't catenary! True. But this is my model railroad and every now then I just have to say No Catenary! No Problem! so I can run the few electric locomotives (I know they're all electric) on the roster.
So what's an E-33? An electric locomotive that had five owners is the short answer. The long answer is this;
In the early 1950's coal hauling Virginian Railway ordered a dozen 3300 hp ignitron rectifier electric locomotives from General Electric to replace some antiquated side rod units that had been on their roster since early in the 20th century. The locomotives were powered by an overhead electrict wire called a catenary. The locomotives were classified as EL3Cs. In 1959 the Virginian was merged into the Norfolk and Western. The new N&W only routed eastbound traffic on the Virginian rails with westbound traffic travelling over N&W rails. Due to this the Virginian electrification and locomotives became surplus and the electrification was shut down. Soon thereafter the locomotives were sold at bargain basement prices to the perpetually cash strapped New Haven. The NH classified the locomotives as EF-4s. In the 1969 merger of the NH into the Penn Central 10 of the original 12 came over to the PC. Both the VGN and NH wrecked one of these locomotives during their ownership.
The units were classified as E33s and numbered 4601-4610 by the Penn Central. All 10 of the PC E33s were conveyed to Conrail in 1976 and all served until Conrail's end of electric operations in 1981. Two are reportedly preserved. One at the Railroad Museum of New England and the other at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The rest were scrapped.
The Penn Central E33s seem to have been assigned to freight duties in what is now called the Northeast Corridor. (As part of the Amtrak takeover of passenger train operations the PC was to move their freight traffic off the NE corridor although that took awhile.) At the time of the PC and Conrail the E33s could run under wire from New Haven CT through NY into NJ and PA and onto DC or Harrisburg PA where the electric lines ended.
So why is it called a brick? Apparently railroaders from either the NH or PC nicknamed the engines as "bricks" due to their boxy appearance.